SEOUL, Aug. 22 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of Chinese tourists in South Korea declined nearly 70 percent on-year last month, marking a drop for five straight months following China’s ban on sales of Korea-bound trips amid a diplomatic row over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system here, government data showed Tuesday.
The tally of Chinese visitors came to 281,263 last month, down 69.3 percent from 917,519 recorded the previous year, according to the data by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).
The number of Chinese visitors in the January-July period stood at 2.53 million, a 46.5 percent drop from 4.73 million tallied in 2016, it said.
Dragged down by the drop in the number of visitors from the neighboring country, the total number of foreigners who visited South Korea last month dropped 40.8 percent to 1 million from 1.7 million, according to the data.
The sharp decline in Chinese tourists has been widely expected as Beijing has banned its travel agencies from selling package tours to Korea since mid-March in apparent retaliation over Seoul’s deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
The ban, which has especially wrecked havoc on South Korean companies in the retail and duty-free sectors, has yet to be lifted.
Chinese visitors accounted for nearly half of some 17 million foreigners in the country last year.
South Korea also saw the number of Japanese tourists fall 8.4 percent on-year to 170,634 last month, due largely to geopolitical instability on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea’s military provocations. It also marked an on-year drop for a fourth consecutive month.
The number of outbound nationals, meanwhile, came to 2.38 million in July, up 14.5 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.